Quick Plays: DAMN VANDALS, DAMN DAMN PATRIOTS, DRAGONSCLAW, EMPIRE, ORIZ

Damn Vandals – Done For Desire (Sexy Beast)

I have come across the Damn Vandals before in the shape of The Beautiful Mind EP I reviewed earlier in the year which was the taster before the full album release. This is the band’s debut long player and it’s not a bad introduction.

The guys play an indie based rock with nods in the direction of Echo And The Bunnymen and The Stranglers. Opener ‘ Revolution/Rehearsal’ instantly brought The Stranglers to my mind with a bit of a punky edge and social comment laden lyrics. Vocalist Jack Kansas has a narrative vocal style which fits well with the overall band sound, not a classic vocalist by any stretch of the imagination, but he fits the bill here.

Amongst the ten tracks on offer are titles such as ‘Sex It Narcissus’, Kids Want Guns’ and the wonderfully titled ‘ The Revenge Of Spider Toothy’ which are all fine tracks but possibly not ones that would drag me back for repeated listens.

A decent debut then from Damn Vandals, but not one that fully grabbed me. Worth a listen though.

**1/2

David Wilson

Damn Damn Patriots – Duke It Out With…Damn Damn Patriots (Woodenhouse Records)

Reading four piece Damn Damn Patriots write decent tunes, musically I can’t fault them, so why did I dislike this album so much ? The answer is down to the distorted vocal on all tracks which grates after approximately two minutes, in fact the band obviously have an endorsement deal with a distortion pedal company as the guitars also suffer the same fate.

The fact is though, take away the annoyingly dirty sound and there are some decent sleazy rock tracks trying to be heard, a shame then that the production has robbed them of the chance to shine.

Next time guys, give the music a bit of room to breathe rather than smothering them in a 20 tog duvet of noise.

*1/2

David Wilson

Laurence And The Slab Boys – Lo-Fi Disgrace (Grumpy Records)

This is the brainchild of Larry Reid, who moved from his native Glasgow to Berlin with his previous band Cinematics only for the band to collapse and leave Reid stuck in the German capital with little to do.

Lo-Fi Disgrace then is an album born out Reid’s feeling of isolation in a foreign land during a long cold winter, don’t expect a barrel of laughs here ! The album though was a surprisingly decent listen as I had feared the worst. With elements of The Doves, Echo And The Bunnymen and The Cure throughout the disc there are some sparkling moments amongst the drab greyness of the Berlin winter.

Things do get a bit maudlin on a number of tracks though and it is not a disc you would want to stick on at a party unless it was to clear the stragglers. If you find yourself in a laid back mood however and want something to chill out to then you could do a lot worse than pop this in the slot.

**1/2

David Wilson

Dragonsclaw – Prophecy (Arkeyn Steel Records)

The concept of Dragonsclaw came into being back in 2007 as a vehicle for founder, guitarist Ben Thomson, to air his wares as a guitarist and songwriter. It took him another couple of years though to find the right players in Australia and New Zealand to bring his vision to flesh and this is the first fruits of their labours.

Classic heavy metal spliced with power metal are the order of the day here and the album sets off at a cracking pace with ‘ Darkness Within’ which shows off Thomson’s impressive six string dexterity. Vocalist Giles Lavery reminds me of Geoff Tate on the early Queensryche albums, he does tend to sound a bit strained and forced though, you get the feeling he would struggle to replicate the performances live especially on ‘Fight For Your Life’ . Another notable performance is that of drummer SEED who knows how to beat a double bass drum pedal into submission and does so at every given opportunity.

One criticism is that the album tends to be a bit one paced and it does lack variety. Overall though, this album contains 10 examples of well played classic metal that would put a smile on any self- respecting metalhead’s face.

***1/2

David Wilson

Oriz – II (Doolittle Group/Liljegren Records)

Oriz is a Swedish melodic metal outfit formed in 2009.  Their debut album faced poor distribution and it is hoped that a switch of label will produce better sales for the second release.

While the band is touted to have classic rock influences of the likes of Rainbow, Deep Purple and Whitesnake and newer influences such as Jorn and Edguy, I hear more mid-tempo Sonata Arctica (especially with the prominent keyboards) and Annihilator (“Set the world on fire” era).  The result is ten solid songs with melodic keys and soft, yet menacing guitar rhythm with melodic solos.  The final song “Living” is an instrumental that doesn’t quite fit with the rest of the album, but makes for an interesting closer.

If you’re into bands with heavy keyboards layering over guitars, this album is for you.  While I far prefer a heavier guitar tone, I still found this to be a great listen.  Worthy of your attention.

****

Nick van der Meulen

Empires of Eden – Channelling the infinite (Music Buy Mail)

Empires of Eden is the brainchild of guitarist Stu Marshal.  Having done this kind of thing before, Marshal hauls in the heavy hitters of the power metal genre to place their howls, shrieks and screams over his frenetic shred work…

Vocalists like Rob Rock, Udo, Sean Peck, Mike Dimeo and Ronny Munroe to name a few, add extra dimension to this work, which can only be described as face-melting, power metal!  The album is relentless, with Marshal and crew bombarding the listener with song after frenetic song.  What makes it a pleasure to listen to, though, are the melodic laden hooks and catchy melodies.  Beware, for there is no power ballad in sight.

Ideal for playing while driving well beyond the speed limit.  Crank it up!

****1/4

Nick van der Meulen

Empire – Trading souls (Lion Music)

Empire is the brainchild of guitarist Rolf Munkes of Majesty fame.  The German raked in the services of Neil Murray (bass), Don Airey (keyboards) and Tony Martin (vocals) for this sophomore release which originally saw the light of day in 2003.

There are some cracking songs on this release (“Trading souls”, “Teenage deadhead”, “Did you ever love me” and “One in a million” come to mind) but, sadly, there are no new songs or bonus tracks to be had for those who own the original.

I’m told the album has been out of print for a number of years and Lion Music is releasing a limited number of copies (500) in digipak form.  All I can say is, if you don’t have this and you’re a fan of melodic rock or any of the musicians mentioned above, what are you waiting for?

****

Nick van der Meulen


David Randall plays a selection of new and classic rock in his weekly show first broadcast 14 June 2020 including reference to the Feature series “2020 Vision”.


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Featured Albums w/c 6 July (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 MANDOKI SOULMATES Living In The Gap (Red Rock Production/Cleopatra)
12:00-13:00 MAGNUS KARLSSON’S FREE FALL – We Are The Night (Frontiers)
14:00-16:00 BEN REEL The Nashville Calling (B.Reel Records)

Power Plays w/c 6 July (Mon-Fri)

ZENITH MOON Gypsy (Golden Robot Records)
RARITY Leave It Alone (New Damage Records)
THE RISING I Want You (indie)
MANDOKI SOULMATES Young Rebels (Red Rock Production/Cleopatra)
LA GUNS Well Oiled Machine (Golden Robot Records)



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